Are wealth, comfort and entertainment the enemy of faithfulness to Christ and his body? And is Sunday morning attendance the litmus test?
I submit to you no, on both counts.
I think brother Platt is coming at this from the wrong direction.
If you don’t want casual Christians in the church, then your church needs to be about building Christendom. If you aren’t building Christendom, you are creating a culture that fosters casual Christians.
Our problem in the American church is not that we have wealth, technology, entertainment and comfort. None of these are evil nor do they cause us to sin. Wealth can become an idol sure, but because of the depravity of man, we are capable of turning pretty much anything into an idol, including good gifts from God.
The enemy of faithful, steadfast, consistent fellowship in the body is the lack of authentic Christian civilization where the local church have interwoven their lives together to such a degree that they actually depend on one another in every area of life. Where they are applying the law-word of God faithfully to every area of life. Businesses, the education of children, lending, welfare, adjudicating disputes, apprenticeships, planning regular corporate feasts, health and medicine practices, hosting civic events, co-operation and building up of inter-generational biblical trustee families etc.
In fact, I wish the church had MUCH MORE wealth so that we could actually replace state welfare systems and offer comfort to the poor and raise up our own sustainable welfare institutions. LACK OF WEALTH drives many in the church to dependence on state institutions (many times at the explicit direction of the church) which ends up destroying Christian interdependence. The lack of Christian civilization prevents the prospect of bringing newly converted households into Christendom rather than into an entity that meets for coffee, fellowship and worship once or twice a week.
Lack of interdependence is what makes church discipline sting a whole lot less. In the early church, being kicked out of the ecclesia meant getting kicked out of a meaningful social order. Nowadays Christans can easily just attend elsewhere since leaving a local church doesn’t mean leaving a social order.
When pastors continually bathe their congregations in reductionist teaching about theology, eschatology, the kingdom and practical application it undermines the will of the local church to build a mini-civilization. Building a mini-civilization can’t be faked. There are no short cuts. It takes time. It takes long term inter-generational commitment. It takes a faith for all of life theology, fueled by the Holy Spirit and governed by the skillful application of God’s law.
When the theology the congregation gets day in and day out is resting on the presumption that the local church is the same thing as the kingdom and then we are then told that if we are good Christians we must serve, the local church becomes inward focused. The question of “what are you doing to serve the kingdom?” becomes synonymous to asking “what are you doing to serve the local church?”. We end up building mini-clubs not social orders. We destroy the prospect of authentic and substantial interdependence. We place obstacles in front of the sheep and then put guilt on them for the culture we create.
Where there is true and authentic interdependence which goes beyond small group Bible study meetings and church barbecues (which are great btw) you won’t have any problems with people only wanting to come if they’ll be comfortable and entertained.